Welcome to the third and final portion of our DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness series! In the past two days, we’ve covered the techniques of Objective Effectiveness (DEARMAN) and Relationship Effectiveness (GIVE). Today, we’re going to look at the specifics of the FAST technique, which focuses on maintaining your self respect in conversations, conflict, and relationships.
Have you ever felt pressured in a conversation (or a relationship in general) to compromise yourself to keep someone else happy? I know I have. In the past, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve compromised some of my most important beliefs and convictions to satisfy other people. This happened frequently in my marriage, for one, but has also occurred in other very important relationships in my life.
Setting boundaries and maintaining those relationships while also maintaining my values and beliefs has proven difficult, but I am slowly getting better at in, in large part due to these communication tools. Bullet points and silly acronyms aside, DBT is incredibly valuable and, I believe, relevant to everyone, whether you’re in recovery or not.
Some relationships, though, are simply unhealthy and toxic.
You can usually tell if a relationship is unhealthy based on whether or not you are able to maintain your values, the majority of the time, without being shamed or given a guilt trip. What are your values?
Sometimes, even that question can be difficult to answer. I couldn’t quite articulate most of mine when I was first asked to think about them. But when I was in the Partial Hospitalization Program, I was given a list of over 200 core values and simply asked to circle the ones that most resonated with me. If you need help identifying your core values, here’s a list of over 500 of them!
Once you’ve identified those values, you’re ready to step into the realm of using FAST.
By now, I’m sure you know the drill – it’s bullet point time. (I know, I hate them, too. Stick with me, though, because I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think it was valuable knowledge.)
First, the questions to determine if you want to use FAST in any given situation:
- Regardless of outcome, how do I want to feel about myself after this conversation?
- What do I have to do to feel that way about myself?
Want some examples of when you use FAST? Here they are!
- When you want to hold firm to your morals, and leave the conversation feeling that you did
- When you need to respect your own values and beliefs over other people’s judgement or thoughts on those convictions
OK! Bullet points out of the way!
It’s Christmas Eve and if you’re like me, you may still have some wrapping to do… or all of your wrapping… or shopping… so let’s get FAST out of the way quickly. (See what I did there? Do you?)
Fair – While it is important to be fair to the other person, it is also important to be fair to yourself. Don’t forget to validate your own feelings, along with the feelings of the other person. Validation is a two way street, and even if you’re not getting the same respect you’re giving, you can still be there for your own feelings and give them the acknowledgement they need while also remaining civil.
Apologies – As in NO apologies. Unless you have done something to wrong the other person, don’t apologize. Don’t say sorry for making a request. Don’t say sorry for having an opinion or disagreeing. Don’t say sorry for existing and living your life in a way with which the other person may not agree. Keep apologies out of your body language as well. You have nothing to look ashamed for if you are simply making a reasonable request, setting a boundary, or sharing a different opinion. Nothing at all.
Stick to your values – Your own values. You are not required to invalidate your integrity or morals for anyone. No matter the threats; no matter the judgments, hold your ground. Your integrity is important, and if you compromise it, you will feel shame and guilt afterward which may follow you for a long time.
Truthful – Don’t lie. Don’t minimize or maximize your feelings or the situation. This one can sound a little tricky, but part of sticking with your values and morals is integrity. This can include not exaggerating or making up excuses for your own actions in a conflict, but also not making up excuses for the other person’s behavior.
That’s FAST! I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled immensely with this one. I tend to over apologize and make excuses for the actions and words of other people. I’ve compromised my values based on threats by other people. I’ve invalidated my feelings in order to validate the feelings of others. I’ve had a skewed view of what constitutes healthy give and take in a relationship.
A long while ago, I wrote a post on that topic called Are Your Relationships Healthy?, and in it, I share a tool called the “Relationship Report Card.” If you’re confused as to whether or not your relationship is healthy and respectful or unhealthy and damaging, I suggest looking through that older post. It really helped me figure out which relationships required each of the three techniques we’ve covered these past three days.
I hope you enjoyed this triple header of a series. I know I enjoyed reviewing the skills and getting them out there for you beautiful humans! I’d love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have! Be sure to drop a comment below, Tweet me @paradichotomy, or take a look around the blog’s Facebook page!
If you’re celebrating, Merry Christmas from Parallel Dichotomy! If you’re not, I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and have been safe and well this holiday season.
In all seriousness, this time of year (Whether you celebrate the holidays or not) can be really rough. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone.
***********GIVE, Interpersonal Effectiveness, and all DBT skills were developed by Marsha Linehan. I am not a professional therapist and these skills are not meant as a substitute for therapy. I’m simply sharing things that I have learned and found helpful along the way.